Washington: Scientists at Northwestern University have developed a tiny virtual reality (VR) goggles, called Miniature Rodent Stereo Illumination VR (iMRSIV), designed to fit over the faces of lab mice.
Unlike traditional VR setups, the custom-designed holder positions the goggles at the front of a treadmill where the mice run in place, creating a more immersive experience.
The researchers found that mice adapted more quickly to this VR environment compared to flat display setups.
To simulate threats, the researchers projected expanding dark spots at the top of the displays, mimicking overhead threats like birds.
This allowed the scientists to study imprinted behaviors wired inside the mice's brains, such as their responses to threats. The system recorded both the mice's physical reactions and their neural activity.
Published in the journal Neuron, the study's findings open up new possibilities for research on brain activity and behavior in mice.
The team aims to further their investigations by reversing the scenario, allowing mice to act as predators while hunting insects.
This innovative use of VR technology provides a realistic and immersive environment, offering valuable insights into the neural responses and interactions of animals in various scenarios.